Should Newspapers Still Be A PR Target?

Last week a new survey conducted by Adweek Media and the Harris Poll found that only two in five Americans read a newspaper each day, and not surprisingly, the demographic of readership skews towards an older population. With newspapers folding up across the country and mainstays like the New York Times preparing to launch a paid online subscription model, the question for public relations executives is how much effort should be devoted to securing newspaper placements for clients?

Here at iMedia Public Relations, we see this study for what it is, more proof of the diminishing impact that newspapers have. However, we also see it as reinforcement for the need to be strategic in looking for placement opportunities for clients.

According to the press release announcing the survey’s findings:

Just two in five U.S. adults (43%) say they read a daily newspaper, either online or in print almost every day. Just over seven in ten Americans (72%) say they read one at least once a week while 81% read a daily newspaper at least once a month. One in ten adults (10%) says they never read a daily newspaper.

These are some of the findings of a new Adweek Media/ Harris Poll, survey of 2,136 U.S. adults surveyed online between December 14 and 16, 2009 by Harris Interactive.

The Graying Newspaper Reader
One reason for the dying of the daily newspaper is the graying of the daily readership. Almost two-thirds of those aged 55 and older (64%) say they still read a daily newspaper almost every day. The younger one is, however, the less often they read newspapers. Just over two in five of those aged 45-54 (44%) read a paper almost every day as do 36% of those aged 35-44. But less than one quarter of those aged 18-34 (23%) say they read a newspaper almost every day while 17% in this age group say they never read a daily newspaper.

Another aspect of the survey focused on whether individuals would pay to read a newspaper’s online content. Of the more than 2,000 adults surveyed, 77% said they would not and of the 23% that would, they would be prepared to subscribe anywhere between $1-10 per month.

Armed with these statistics, where should a publicist turn in regards to seeking opportunities with newspaper outlets?

The first answer is to know your client’s target audience.  If you retain a client that has an event, product, book, etc. targeted to a youth or younger demographic audience, then social media is where you should be spending your billable time, not newsprint.

However, if you are working with a subject that appeals to a broader, older demographic, then the specific section applicable to that subject matter would remain a viable media option to pursue.

One print outlet, which we feel remains viable across a broad community spectrum, is the weekly suburban newspaper.  Since these are loaded with local advertising and, thus are usually delivered free to residences, they have wider appeal to a cross-section of readers.  We’d love to see a study done on the readership for these type publications.

Part of the overall appeal of the weekly suburban paper is not only that it is free, but it provides newsworthy coverage of local government, such as city council meetings and other issues affecting the municipality as well a ample coverage of local schools, sporting events, etc. 

So, in considering whether the daily newspaper should or should not be a source for your next publicity campaign, make sure keep the suburban weekly in mind as well.

You may find that it is the one print vehicle that delivers the biggest impact for your campaign.

Tom Cosentino

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One Response to “Should Newspapers Still Be A PR Target?”

  1. […] doom clanging, well just about over the sharpening of knives as Innovative Media PR declared that, once and for all, traditional media was nearly dead (at least in […]

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